Mentoring matters: Command University offers resources for professional mentorship to elevate your skills and accelerate your career growth
Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs
Starting a new profession, changing positions within an organization or reinvigorating a current job can be exciting, however identifying a successful career path can present challenges. For many Americans, work is a large portion of their day and a job can make a huge impact on their quality of life. Mentorship can be a key driver for both long- and short-term success within an organization. But what exactly is mentorship and why is it so important?
Mentorship is a structured relationship in which a more knowledgeable or experienced person guides and nurtures the professional development or growth of another, outside the traditional manager-subordinate structure. Its focus goes beyond learning specific competencies or tasks, and builds a climate of trust so the mentee can feel secure to seek advice on issues impacting their professional success.
Successful mentorship achieves its goals primarily by listening with empathy, sharing experiences, developing insight through reflection, and encouraging the mentee to take action toward the achievement of self-driven goals. As such, the relationship is mentee driven, with a clear definition of goals and expectations that are mutually agreed upon with the mentor. It is attentive to the mentee’s values and needs, and respectful of the mentor’s time, resources and experience.
When people think of the mentor-mentee relationship, it is often the mentee who is thought to reap all the benefits. In fact, it is a symbiotic relationship where both sides benefit. Mentors experience an array of upsides, including feelings of satisfaction as they watch the success of a mentee, gaining new experiences and perspectives while working alongside a mentee, enhancing communication skills, developing leadership skills through goal-driven action, and learning to better navigate an organization’s structure and operations while connecting mentees with resources.
A mentoring relationship may address a wide variety of topics such as technical development, managing interpersonal relationships on the job and professional networking. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s Command University has a robust, command-sponsored mentorship program available to all employees, both military and civilian.
“When I talk to people about mentoring, I ask them if they have ever found themselves saying ‘I wish I knew that then’ or ‘I wish someone would have told me,’” said Kevin Ady, leadership program manager, Code 1181, Command University, who coordinates the PSNS & IMF mentoring program. “I let them know that mentoring can be cyclical, that shared knowledge can then be passed along as the mentee becomes a mentor for others.”
Using the Mentor Match tool, PSNS & IMF employees can create a profile and select areas of interest as a mentor or as a mentee. The tool then matches mentees with mentors of like interests. Mentees can send requests to be mentored, which mentors either accept or decline. Once a request is accepted the mentee and mentor meet and start their partnership.
“Currently, we have almost 1,400 involved in our mentorship program, typically about 25% are mentors but they may also be a mentee as well,” said Ady.
For more information on becoming a mentor or mentee at PSNS & IMF, visit Command University’s SharePoint site or talk to a supervisor about using the Mentor Match tool.